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After Maxine Kumin's "The Sunday Phone Call"

by Lisa Marie Brodsky

If Mom called, she would list the foods
I needed to buy to fill my empty refrigerator
with goodness.

“You need to clean once in a while, too.”
“But I’m tired, Ma. I miss you.”
“Don’t use me as an excuse to slip away.”

And I’d be silent, then,
“My tears add up every night and flood this place.”
“Don’t tell yourself you’re doomed. Your cat needs
you. And you must make chocolate éclairs
for your daughter.”

My daughter? I’d scoff. “I’m as lonely
as a meow in the snow, I have no lover,
mother, I have no one to grow old with, make
babies with and I’m nearing thirty.”

She’d laugh at my naïveté and I’d correct myself:
“No, because of you I’ll forever be
stuck at 28, November 6, 2006, stuck on that phone
with John repeating, “Be strong.”

“He means well,” she’d sigh.
And I’d bring up the fact that I only have
one blood parent now. I love him, but
“you always helped me explain him to me.”
“You two have grown closer,” she’d note.
“Don’t use your dying as a blessing,” I’d choke out.
“I’m blind without you, I’m deaf without you.”

And she’d sigh, “my Lisa Marie, please stop talking
and listen to me.”
And I’d stop.

“But you’re not saying anything.”
“Exactly,” she’d smile. “Just listen to me breathe.”
And I would and I’d realize that’s the
most comforting sound in the world.

And there I’d stand, leaning against the wall
with the phone to my ear
for a very long time.


Posted on 12/29/2006
Copyright © 2022 Lisa Marie Brodsky

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